NHL Hockey Betting:  Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets&h=253&w=372&zc=1

The two bottom teams in the Central Division go at it in Winnipeg on Sunday as the Colorado Avalanche visit the Jets. Winnipeg may be in sixth place but they’re not really in bad shape. They’re tied with Nashville and just one point behind Dallas in fourth place. Things are a little more urgent for Colorado. They’ve lost two straight, are 2-7-1 in their last ten games and are 11-17-1 on the season. They’re 8 points back of Winnipeg and Nashville and 23 points back of the first place Chicago Blackhawks. They’re also the worst team in the Western Conference (trailing Arizona by 4 points) and for that matter have the lowest point total in the NHL. Things are quickly going off the rails for the Avs.

The erratic Semyon Varlamov looks to be making the Avalanche goaltending a nightmare one again. When he’s healthy and playing well (two separate conditions) Varlamov is as good as anyone in hockey. He’s been playing poorly and now he’s injured–he’s listed as ‘questionable’ here with a groin injury–though it could very well be much worse than that. Groin injuries are to goalies as elbow injuries are to baseball players. Calvin Pickard is the listed starter here and he’s played reasonably well in Varlamov’s absence this season. Pickard has a 5-5-1 record with a 2.88 goals against average and a 0.904 save percentage.

Winnipeg will counter with Michael Hutchinson who has struggled this season. Connor Hellebuyck has emerged as the team’s top goalie but he’s at least tentatively listed to get the night off here. The Jets also have a few other injuries throughout the lineup to key players including forwards Shawn Matthias, Joel Armia and Nic Petan. They’re also without defenseman Tyler Myers. All players are listed as out ‘indefinitely’.

The head to head series between the teams has been very even during the past few years. In fact, they’ve split the last 12 games though the Jets have won 4 of 6 at home. They’ve split two games so far this year with Colorado winning 3-2 in Denver on 11/11 and losing 1-0 at home on 10/28. They Jets have been playing hard against good teams and even their recent losing efforts have been decent. That should be enough to get the ‘W’ here.